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Kanzer, M. (1973). Victor Tausk: Analyst and Dramatic Critic. Am. Imago, 30(4):371-379.
(1973). American Imago, 30(4):371-379
Victor Tausk: Analyst and Dramatic Critic
Mark Kanzer, M.D.
Victor Tausk was one of the most interesting, brilliant and unfortunate of the circle that gathered about Freud in the early days of psychoanalysis. His most important analytic study “The Influencing Machine,” appeared in the year of his suicide, 1919. In one respect, it is reminiscent of the torture apparatus invented by Franz Kafka for his story, “In the Penal Colony”; (see Globus and Pillard, 1966, for other remarkable resemblances between the two contemporaries). In another, and not unrelatedly, it may be described as a record of paranoid disintegration observed from within and staved off by a capacity to sublimate by projection on to other characters, real and imaginary. When sublimation failed and analytic treatment was unsuccessful, Tausk committed suicide.
Just fifty years after his death, Tausk was granted a “second life” largely through the efforts of Paul Roazen, who wrote a biography, Brother Animal(1969) and sponsored translations of articles, still timely, on the war deserter, war psychoses and alcoholic deliria. Even the titles are indicative of Tausk's social orientation, which made him first a lawyer and than a pioneer in analytic ego and superego psychology. Such terms as “ego boundary” and “identity” are associated with his name. Moreover, the literary quality of his scientific works is remarkable. The son of an editor himself, he was adept in journalistic skills and aspired to a career as writer and artist.
Roazen's book, while in many respects a valuable source of information about Tausk's personal life, nevertheless aroused sharp criticism (Eissler, 1971). It featured in dramatic and controversial fashion a triangular relationship between the unhappy man, Freud himself and Lou Andreas-Salomé, a glamorous lady and consort of figures such as Nietzsche and Rilke. She came to Vienna to study psychoanalysis in 1912 and was admitted to the inner Freudian circle on the recommendation of Karl Abraham.
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